Maybe it’s premature for an election that’s still a year away, and perhaps it’s archaic to expect to find any serious discussion of issues and policies in candidates’ campaign websites. Old-fashioned plodder that I am, however, I went foraging on those websites to see what I could find about their policy positions on education.
I started with the two “official” Biden re-election campaign sites and came up completely dry—dry on issues in general, not just education. They’re devoted to fund-raising and staff recruitment. No doubt the powers that be in the Biden camp prefer to let the President’s actions and proposals signal what he would do during a second term, at least for the time being.
Turning to the Republican side, with Mike Pence now out, I settled for Politico’s judgment that six GOP contenders remain, in some sense, plausible. So that’s where I went hunting. It was not a totally fruitless quest, but it wasn’t very rewarding, either. Here’s the short version:
The Trump website has a lot to say on education.
Tim Scott also has a lot to say.
Vivek Ramaswamy has a few one-liners.
The others—DeSantis, Haley, Christie—are almost devoid of substance at the campaign website level, but they’re all governors or ex-governors, so it’s not hard to track down information about their education track records.
Does it matter? Read on—they’re in the same order as above—and see what you think.
One of Trump’s campaign websites states his positions and plans on fifteen major issues. Education appears under the heading “Protect Parents’ Rights.” Here’s the entirety of it:
President Donald J. Trump fought tirelessly to expand charter schools and school choice for America’s children. He secured permanent funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and protected free speech on college campuses. Now, Joe Biden and the radical left are using the public school system to push their perverse sexual, racial, and political material on our youth. President Trump will cut federal funding for any school or program pushing Critical Race Theory or gender ideology on our children. His administration will open Civil Rights investigations into any school district that has engaged in race-based discrimination. President Trump will veto the sinister effort to weaponize civics education, keep men out of women’s sports, and create a credentialing body to certify teachers who embrace patriotic values. President Trump will reward states and school districts that abolish teacher tenure for grades K–12 and adopt Merit Pay, cut the number of school administrators, adopt a Parental Bill of Rights, and implement the direct election of school principals by the parents.
Senator Scott’s website is by far the most detailed on a bunch of issues, including an extensive section on education, half of which recounts his record in Congress. Here’s (all of) what’s there:
Education, Not Indoctrination
“I have lived the truth that education is the closest thing to magic in America. But today, the far left has us retreating away from excellence in our schools. Extreme liberals are letting Big Labor bosses trap millions of kids in failing systems. They’re replacing education with indoctrination.”
America’s children should be learning ABCs, not CRT. The radical Left wants to indoctrinate our children, not educate them. We will fight to ensure that America’s kids are learning how to read and write, not about gender transition and sexual identity. We must demand excellence in our schools, which means giving every family a choice, every parent a voice, and every child a chance.
- Defend parental rights by giving every family the power and resources they need to decide their child’s education and future.
- Demand transparency in the classroom so parents are informed as to what their children learn in school.
- Expand opportunities for all children by embracing education freedom and empowering parents, which will allow millions of children to unlock their God-given potential.
A Proven Record:
- The CHOICE Act: Ensures parents have the tools to find a school that can effectively serve their child’s needs and grants flexibility and support to parents with disabled children.
- Training America’s Workforce Act: Empower apprenticeship programs because every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their version of the American Dream.
- Kids in Classes Act: Big Labor Bosses have kept children out of classrooms, so this legislation would allow families to put unused Title I funds toward further choices for in-person education.
- Educational Choice for Children Act: Provides $10 billion in annual tax credits for Scholarship Grant Organizations.
- PROTECT Kids Act: Cut off federal funding from any school that allows students to change their pronouns, gender markers, or sex-based accommodations including locker rooms and bathrooms, without their parents’ consent.
Note before moving on that both Trump and Scott pack a lot of substance into relatively few words. None of it is developed in detail—and some seems beyond the reach of anyone sitting at the Resolute desk. But it’s worth coming back one day for some serious unpacking of what they, as President, might actually try to do in education.
His campaign website offers twenty-five one-liner “policy commitments to take America First further than Trump.” The two that (sort of) bear on education say this: “Incentivize trade schools over hollow college degrees (sorry, gender studies majors)” and “Shut down toxic government agencies: Dept of Education, FBI, IRS, and more (and rebuild from scratch when required).” Period.
Nothing about issues is printed on his confusing and shape-shifting website. A few video clips show him speaking briefly about education. But his time as governor of Florida has built quite a record, much of it in the realm of “culture wars.” USA Today offered a decent summary.
Her campaign website is regrettably silent on issues. But she, too, was a governor (2011–17) and built an education track record. More immediately, a Spectrum News transcript of a recent New Hampshire campaign forum offers a summary of what she says she would focus on in education if elected president.
You’ll find nothing on issues on the campaign website, though there are a bunch of videos. But he, too, racked up a considerable record on education as governor of New Jersey (2010–18), which may prefigure what he might seek to encourage in this realm if he were president.
Campaign websites, like party platforms, won’t likely influence the choices of many voters, whether in primaries on the general election. But insofar as they offer clues as to what a candidate might actually do once in office, they bear watching. So I’ll be back with more, including my take on the Trump and Scott assertions.